Germany automatically qualified for this year’s
world cup as hosts, the main star of the German
side is Michael Ballack who truly merits his status
as a world class player. Germany have never failed
to qualify for the FIFA world cup, however they
did not enter in 1930 and 1950. Germany will want
to prove that world cup 2002 was no fluke in reaching
Star man - Michael Ballack
Mexico is forty times the size of Costa Rica; however
they were just as impressive in qualifying. Costa
Rica has a population of just below four million.
Costa Rica were knocked out in the first phase of
the 2002 world cup however they are looking for
a repeat performance from Italia 90 were they went
through to the second phase at the expense of Scotland.
They are entering the FIFA world cup on the back
of an embarrassing 3-1 defeat against Guatemala
Star man - Paulo Wanchope
Poland coasted through their qualifying group with
wins at home and away against Wales, Northern Ireland,
Austria and Azerbaijan, only England beat Poland.
They scored a staggering 27 goals in their ten qualifying
matches which speaks volumes for it self. They will
fancy them selves to reach the second phase at least.
Star man - Tomasz Frankowski
Ecuador qualified for this summer’s world cup at
the expense of Colombia and Chile and they will
want to prove qualification for this year’s world
cup was no fluke. Despite only reaching the first
phase four years ago, they managed to beat Brazil
and Argentina at home in the qualifying round.
Star man - Luis Valencia
England qualified for this summer’s world cup; however
everything did not go according to plan when they
were defeated by Northern Ireland. 2006 represents
England’s best chance of winning the world cup in
forty years. With the likes of Michael Owen, David
Beckham and Wayne Rooney, England could be serious
contenders. The experience of players like Gary
Neville and Rio Ferdinand may prove vital.
Star man - Frank Lampard
Consistency over the years has been a major problem
for Paraguay, the teams form fluctuated through
out qualifying. After three disappointing world
cup tournaments, they will be looking to qualify
for the knock out phase. A home victory at the hands
of Argentina will provide them with confidence.
Star man - Nelson Valdez
Trinidad qualified for the World cup finals at the
expense of Bahrain. They boast a host of players
playing in the English football league including
Dennis Lawrence of Wrexham and Stern John of Coventry
City. Ex- Manchester United striker, Dwight Yorke
now playing his football in Australia will be up
front for Trinidad this summer.
Star man - Dwight Yorke
After scoring 30 goals in their qualifying matches
Sweden are expected to have a really good tournament
at this summer’s world cup. They lost the 1958 world
cup final to Brazil and reached the Semi-Final of
the 1994 world cup. In qualifying they comfortably
beat Bulgaria home and away. They will be looking
to enter the second phase at least.
Star man - Henrik Larsson
After the disappointing first round exit in Korea/Japan
2002, Argentina have regained momentum and will
go to Germany as one of the favourites to win the
trophy. They were the fist team in South America
to qualify for this summer’s world cup. They beat
Brazil 3-1 in June and fancy their chances against
the likes of Serbia and Holland in their group;
they are expected to comfortably reach the second
phase at least.
Star Man - Hernan Crespo
Ivory Coast possesses one of the best strikers in
the world, Didier Drogba, who plays his football
for Chelsea in England. The manager, Henri Michel,
is extremely experienced, in charge of his sixth
national team. They beat Egypt home and away in
the qualifying round which helped their cause in
qualifying for this summer’s world cup.
Star Man - Didier Drogba
They topped their qualifying group ahead of Spain
and Belgium. Mateja Kezman provides the greatest
goal threat; he scored five goals in qualifying
for the world cup and plays his domestic football
at Athletico Madrid. Their tight defence was the
key for Serbia in reaching the world cup finals.
Despite being in this tough Group they may be looking
to come off on top at the expense of Argentina and
Key Man - Mateja Kezman
Marco van Basten is hoping for the Dutch to go far
in this summer’s world cup finals, knowing that
they are well capable of winning the world cup.
After 18 years without winning a major trophy they
will be looking to reinforce them selves on the
world map of football. They were more than impressive
in qualifying for the world cup without being defeated
in qualifying, including a 2-0 away victory against
Star Man - Ruud Van Nistelrooy
Mexico breezed through the qualifying round, and
are looking for a repeat of their outstanding performance
four years ago where they reached the quarter- finals.
Mexico’s world ranking took a tremendous boost by
reaching fifth in September 2005. They are favourites
to win this group ahead of Portugal.
Star Man - Jared Borgetti
With nine wins in eleven qualifiers they comfortably
qualified for the world cup finals. Ali Karimi poses
Iran’s greatest threat playing for Bayern Munich,
he was crowned Asian Footballer of the year in 2004.
They will be looking to build on their performance
in the world cup finals in France in 1998.
Star Man - Ali Karimi
Angola reached this summer’s world cup finals at
the expense of Nigeria. They won all five home matches
in qualifying for the world cup this summer. They
required a victory in their final qualifying match
against Rwanda to qualify for the world cup finals.
Angola boasts their striker, Mantorras who plays
his domestic football in Portugal for Benfica.
Star Man - Mantorras
Portugal comfortably won their qualifying group
ahead of Russia and Slovakia. Outstanding attackers
like Christiano Ronaldo and Sabrosa have fused brilliantly.
After reaching the final of the European Championships
in home soil they will be looking to progress far
in this summer’s world cup.
Star Man - Christiano Ronaldo
Places in the Italian squad are tight as the Italian
coach used 36 players in the qualifying matches
that saw Italy easily win their qualifying group.
They have world class defenders including Alessandro
Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro. Whilst their playmaker
Totti will be playing for Italy in the summer. Francesco
Totti is likely to be Italy’s greatest threat up
front. They are expected to win Group E.
Star Man - Gianluca Zambrotta
Ghana secured a place at the 2006 world cup with
a 4-0 victory away to the Cape Verde Islands. Ghana
have won the African nations cup on four occasions
and this is their first appearance in a world cup.
Their only defeat in qualifying came against Burkina
Faso. They beat past world cup participants, South
Africa both home and away.
Star man - Michael Essien
Their world cup performance four years ago, reaching
to the quarter finals signalled the country’s emergence
as a serious soccer nation. Landon Donovan was outstanding
in the world cup four years ago and he will be looking
to build on his performance in this summer’s world
cup. They only lost twice in qualifying and are
going to push for a place in the second round.
Star Man - Claudio Reyna
After an excellent performance in Euro 2004, Czech
Republic could be the dark horses of this world
cup. After a rocky 2-0 away defeat against Holland
in their opening qualifying match, the Czech Republic
won 11 out of their 13 remaining qualifying matches,
two of them won against Norway in a two- legged
play off. Milan Baros will be looking to top the
scoring charts in this summer’s world cup after
picking up the golden boot in Euro 2004 with five
Star Man - Milan Baros
Without a doubt Brazil are the favourites to win
this summer’s world cup, there team is packed with
world class talent. The World class stars they feature
include, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and Adriano. After
a below par qualifying campaign they will be looking
to show what their team is actually worth. They
should comfortably win Group F.
Star Man - Ronaldinho
Croatia stormed into this year’s world cup by topping
a tough qualifying group that included teams like
Sweden and Bulgaria. They remain unbeaten in their
qualifying matches and will be in contention to
top Group F along with Brazil.
Star Man - Niko Kavik
After thirty two years out of the world cup finals,
they have finally qualified. After agonising play-off
defeats at the hands of Iran and Uruguay in the
past two campaigns, they qualified for the world
cup. With Guus Hiddink as manager, Australia could
not be in better hands. Hiddink led South Korea
to the semi- finals in 2002. Many of the players
in the Australian national squad play their football
in the Premiership.
Star man - Tim Cahill
Japan became the first nation to qualify for the
2006 world cup. The side is being managed by former
Brazil legend Zico. The only team to beat them in
qualifying was Iran.
Star man - Hidetoshi Nakata
The comeback of Zinedine Zidane will be welcomed
by the French as they did not play particularly
well in qualifying. They started off poorly with
a home scoreless draw against Israel and had to
count on victories against much weaker nations such
as Faroe Islands and Cyprus to qualify. However
they still managed to win the group. After a very
disappointing show in the 20022 world cup and Euro
2004, France will be looking to progress far in
this summer’s world cup.
Star Man - Thierry Henry
Switzerland qualified for the world cup on goal
difference in a two- legged play off against Turkey.
They were lucky to even qualify for the play offs
as they failed to beat Israel, Ireland or France
in the qualifying phase. Switzerland will play host
Euro 2008 and will like to give a great performance
to show their value in years to come.
Star man - Johan Vonlanthen
Four years ago South Korea had not won any of their
twelve world cup matches, and no one expected them
to get past the fist group phase. However they astonished
everyone by reaching the semi-finals. Judging them
on recent form may indicated that they have little
chance of progressing as far as they did four years
ago, however a place in the second round is certainly
not beyond them.
Star man - Park Ji- Sung
The president of Togolese declared a national holiday
to celebrate Togo qualifying for the world cup this
summer. They are managed by Stephen Keshi who is
a former captain and assistant coach of Nigeria.
Star man - Emmanuel Adebayor
Spain have failed to live up to expectations in
past world cups, they have failed to get past the
quarter finals in their last eight attempts. The
squad looks their strongest ever; however they were
far from brilliant in qualifying for the world cup
and they relied on a play off match against Slovakia
to go through to the world cup.
Star man - Fernando Torres
After narrowly missing out on major tournaments
since gaining independence in 1991, Ukraine cam
out on top of a tough qualifying group including
European champions Greece. Ukraine went six qualifying
matches without conceding a single goal. The Ukraine
are inspired by their star striker Andriy Shevchenko.
They will be looking to show their true value in
the world cup this summer.
Star man - Andriy Shevchenko
Tunisia disposed of North African competitors Morocco
to reach this summer’s world cup. Their previous
three campaigns in the years 1978, 1998 and 2002
ended in disappointment, however this summer they
will want to put on a good shoe to compensate for
previous competitions. Most their players play in
the French league, including Ziad Jaziri and Slim
Star Man - Francileudo Santos
After a triumphant debut in the world cup finals
of 1994, they have struggled in the previous two
world cups. The 2002 world cup could be considered
a disaster after losing all three matches, including
an 8-0 hammering against Germany. However in their
qualifying matches they remained unbeaten throughout
and will be looking to banish the memory of the
world cup four years ago.
Star man - Nawaf Al Temyat